We spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and…
… we complete yet another loop, but time travels in a spiral rather than a circle. Back in the same place in some ways, but also hurtling toward a whole other galaxy in another dimension.
Nothing but grains of sand, jumbled up in space, falling through a Klein bottle.
Last night my Mom and I made pierogis together for the first time ever.
I didn’t realize it until we got started, but this for her had little to do with the food itself, and much more with trying to discover how to make them the way her mom made them. Her mom gave her a recipe, but that recipe (like oh so many traditional family recipes), was either intentionally or unintentionally flat out wrong and so it never got her even close to what she remembered from when she was young.
Pretty recently, mom finally got another version of the recipe from one of her cousins, and it was somewhat closer to “the real thing”, but still not quite right. Mom was still stressed, almost even moreso, because knowing we had roughly the right ingredients and proportions meant that all that was left was the “how” part.
Mom said (and it’s an exaggeration, for sure, because like seemingly all moms, she’s a great cook), that she is bad with dough and will never be good with dough. I totally forgot because it had been quite a while since I had done it from scratch, but I am not bad with dough! I’ve made dumplings from scratch, made pierogis (not my family recipe, but stuff I found online), made ravioli, pizzas, etc.
So we made small adjustments and discoveries along the way, as we worked on mom’s mission. We screwed some things up, then we fixed them. We wrestled with following the instructions on the page vs. guessing at what her mom might have actually done.
In the end, it was all about going by the feel of things, at every step along the way. Is this too dry? Too sticky? Too thick? Too thin? Do we have too much filling? Too little? Is the filling smooth enough, but not too smooth?
Do we pull them out of the water just as soon as they float? Or was it six minutes? Or something else? Let’s try them in tiny batches, figure it out.
My kitchen became a mini-test kitchen for replicating a specific memory that I couldn’t recall myself, but needed to interpret through my mom’s reaction to the things we tried together. I needed to figure out how to suggest gentle tweaks or adjustments to somebody who is both a much better cook than me, and who was on a personal mission to stay true to specific traditional roots.
At some point well after midnight, we bit into something that definitely wasn’t my mom’s mom’s pierogis, but was the closest she had ever gotten to making them “right.”
We didn’t write anything down. Maybe we should have. Or maybe just knowing what it feels like is what matters most, and can’t be put into words.
Last Thursday, I performed in a recital for the first time. It was scary, but not nearly as much as I expected it to be. There were about 20 people there (via Zoom), and I was the only performer playing guitar music. Others sang, a few played piano, and one played viola.
I felt proud after participating in this first recital, for two reasons: Because no matter how it went, it had taken me from “Never performed in public before” to “Have performed” — and because it represented a milestone after four years of hard work and exploration. Simply showing up and doing it was enough, but it actually went kind of OK, so that was a bonus!
My path into music started with noodling on a ukulele in the winter break of 2016, and then it took root in my head and heart so deeply that I can count on my hands and feet the days I have not at least played something on a string instrument since then. I can’t remember exactly when I switched to guitar, but I think it was about 2.5 years ago.
I cannot possibly put into words how much music has been a saving grace over the last several years. I am still a novice with so much room to grow, but every moment spent playing has been one that brought me joy.
Here’s a recording of the song I played for the recital, Maracatu:
Far from perfect, but… overall, not so bad for a beginner!
Shocking, but not in the live wire sort of way.
A trillion electrons scattered upon a blanket,
Or nestled within cascading waves of hair.
A infinitesimal lightning bolt waiting to strike.
Electrostatic but dry, devoid of falling rains.
Not silent, but free from bangs and booms.
…The jolt still sends you leaping across the room.
Your hand pulls back–spraying sparks into something you once thought was cozy.
Winter solstice, today.
Saturn and Jupiter neck and neck in a foot race. So close together yet so far away.
Us still spinning in the same place, at a breakneck pace. Something happens “Only every 800 years” every day in space. It still puts a smile on my face.
Now, every day will get a little bit lighter. At least for a while.
Getting outside on a warm and sunny day feels natural. It just happens, there’s very little friction to it.
When it’s cloudy and a bit cool, not so cool as to be cold, but cool enough to not feel comfy, it takes a bit more effort to get out the door.
Like the weather, less-than-ideal conditions in everything else also generate resistance at times. My bike has been in a state of perpetual half-brokenness as I work on learning how to adjust derailleurs and fix issues with shifting. Sometimes it has been totally unusable, but most of the time it is in a state of “working but not working all that well”, a cloudy and cool sort of situation.
But whatever. Today I got out on the road and on the trails for a couple hours, gears a little grindy, arms a bit goosebumpy, but I enjoyed the ride just the same.
Now I have to go clean a sinkful of thanksgiving dishes in a sink that’s only half-functioning because of a garbage disposal mishap and a last-minute hasty repair yesterday. Cloudy and cool, but not cold and rainy.
Knowing the difference, makes a difference.
A billion tiny snapshots per day. They blend together at times, if you let them. But you can also choose to let each one pass by in its own separate frame, flickering in and then out of your life like the light of a firefly. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Last night I had a strange dream about a massive rooftop garden in some city, frozen over, nearly a mile up in the sky. I stood in this garden, in the middle of a blizzard, staring at a rickety rope bridge extending deep out into the unknown, presumably to another mile-high rooftop, while so many people formed a giant line as they crossed it, easily a hundred of them or more, disappearing into the clouds and snow one by one; wind rocking them gently, like an ocean wave, slowly enough to not impede their movement, but strong enough to make it clear that the bridge was not clamped down in any way, free to move wherever the wind might take it—In the dream I stood completely still, staring at this bridge while the crowd around me kept moving towards it as if it was the obvious and ordinary thing to do, and with each one that stepped off of the rooftop and onto that bridge I wondered, what must be on the other side that makes them so sure it’s where they want to go, and that the reward is greater than the risk?
A strange dream indeed.